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Second son is on the way, but she had hoped for a daughter

Second son is on the way, but she had hoped for a daughter

Q: This sounds so stupid and sexist, but here goes:

How do I become okay with the fact that I'm having another boy? I love my son. He is a wonderful and lovely 18-month-old. But I really cherish the close relationship I have with my mother, and now that I'm faced with the possibility of a life with only sons, I feel I'll never have that kind of close, adult connection with my own children.

What's that saying, "A son is a son till he takes a wife, a daughter is a daughter all her life"? I keep telling myself, "You give birth to a person, not a gender," but I'm not feeling it yet.

Gender-town

A: That saying is the only sexist thing here — gak — and it's not stupid to be sad: You just learned you won't get something that you value. You have a great thing with your mom, and you conjured that into a daughter of your own — so your sense of loss is not only totally normal, but also comes from a positive source. Parting with a vision of yourself is always difficult, whether it's about your location ("I always thought I'd live by the ocean"), or occupation ("I always saw myself as a doctor"), or relationships ("I won't fight like my parents did"). Granted, our visions have about a million different ways of not coming true — but that doesn't mean parting with them is easy.

Those million paths to disappointment, though, are actually a useful way to approach your feelings right now: Having another boy was just one way your vision got derailed, and there could have been 999,999 others.

If you had a daughter, for example, there's absolutely no guarantee you'd be close. Let's say the two of you just never clicked, and your closeness never happened — wouldn't that be even more heartbreaking? And what if one of you got sick, what if you and her dad split and he got custody, what if she took up an instrument or sport or other skill that took her out of your home on a daily basis, and she devoted her youth to that?

Just as some twists can take your story in a disappointing direction, there are also twists that turn the narrative in your favor in unexpected ways. You could have a different, but just as great, closeness to your sons as you enjoy with your mom.

In other words, maybe you don't live near the ocean because you found happiness in the mountains, and you're not a doctor because you had to get a job before you could afford med school, and that job fulfilled you.

Your having a boy is nothing more than an unexpected change of direction. You won't be "feeling it" until you get used to your new direction. Your little boy will have a lot to say about that; the chances are overwhelming that once you get to know him, you won't be able to imagine having wanted someone else.

What you can do now is open yourself to that idea — after you snuffle a bit about your nongirl, if that helps. It's an old story, though: You can't imagine it, until one day you do.

Second son is on the way, but she had hoped for a daughter 04/11/10 [Last modified: Sunday, April 11, 2010 5:30am]

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